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13% Fewer S&P 500 Companies Citing “Tariffs” on Earnings Calls in Q3 vs. Q2

Earnings

By John Butters  |  November 18, 2019

During each corporate earnings season, it is not unusual for companies to comment on subjects that had an impact on their earnings and revenues in a given quarter or may have an impact on earnings and revenues in future quarters. To date, 92% of the companies in the index have reported earnings results for the third quarter. Given the continued uncertainty around tariffs, have companies in the S&P 500 commented on “tariffs” during their earnings conference calls for the third quarter?

To answer this question, FactSet searched for the term “tariff” in the conference call transcripts of the 451 S&P 500 companies that had conducted earnings conference calls between September 15 and November 14. Of these 451 companies, 113 (25%) cited the term “tariff” during the call. At the sector level, the Industrials led all sectors with 30 companies citing the term “tariff” on earnings calls.

S&P 500 Companies Citing Tariff on Earnings Calls

The number of S&P 500 companies discussing tariffs on Q3 2019 earnings calls during this time is below the number through the same point in time in the second quarter. From June 15 through August 14, 130 S&P 500 companies (29%) had cited the term “tariff” on their Q2 2019 earnings calls over this time frame. Thus, there has been a 13% decrease (113 vs. 130) in the number of S&P 500 companies citing “tariffs” in Q3 relative to Q2 during this period. At the sector level, eight of the 11 sectors have witnessed a decrease in the number of S&P 500 companies citing the term “tariff” on earnings calls in Q3 2019 relative to Q2 2019, led by the Industrials (-6) and Materials (-5) sectors.

S&P 500 Companies Citing Tariff on Earnings Calls Q3 vs Q2

The number of S&P 500 companies discussing tariffs on Q3 2019 earnings calls is also below the number at the same point in time in the year-ago quarter. From September 15 (2018) through November 14 (2018), 151 S&P 500 companies (34%) had cited the term “tariff” on their Q3 2018 earnings calls over this time frame. Thus, the number of S&P 500 companies citing “tariffs” in Q3 2019 is 25% below the number from last year at the same point in time.

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John Butters

Senior Earnings Analyst

John’s weekly research report, Earnings Insight provides analysis and commentary on trends in corporate earnings data for the S&P 500, including revisions to estimates, year-over-year growth, performance relative to expectations, and valuations. He is a widely used source for the media and has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business News, and the Business News Network. In addition, he has been cited by numerous print and online publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The New York Times, MarketWatch, and Yahoo! Finance.

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